The 55-year old manager of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Mall, Huntington (Long Island) died and more than 27 others after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes last night. The manager, Steve Nelson, was found unconscious in the basement, and later died of cardiac arrest after being transferred to Huntington Hospital.
Although most of those affected were said to be restaurant workers, three Suffolk County police officers and 4 ambulance emergency crew members reported feeling nauseous and dizzy after arriving at the scene. They were also taken to the. Hospital for emergency treatment.
Two other mall restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory and Panera Bread were also evacuated as a precaution. Homicide and arson squad detectives are now investigating the incident, focusing mainly on Legal Sea Foods’s heating system.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating toxic gas found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by automobiles and trucks, small gasoline-powered motors, gas and wood burning stoves and heating system and small heaters.
Symptoms of mild acute poisoning include lightheadedness, headaches, dizziness and confusion, as well as chest pains, nausea, vomiting and even memory loss,while more severe exposure can effect heart and central nervous system, as well as pose serious threats to unborn children in their mothers’ wombs, and even death. Treatment of CO poisoning largely consists of administering 100% oxygen which works as an “antidote” by it increasing the removal of carbon monoxide built up in the blood.
Note: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that carbon monoxide poisoning claims nearly 400 lives, and causes more than 20,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms every year.